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Leveson Review

Volume 614: debated on Thursday 8 September 2016

4. What recent progress has been made on the implementation of the Leveson review; and if she will make a statement. (906187)

May I, too, congratulate the Secretary of State on her appointment? The long grass into which the Government have kicked the Leveson review is getting ever longer, but the issue is not going away. The previous Prime Minister signed a cross-party agreement, and this House overwhelmingly passed section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, so when will she implement it?

I am taking my time to make sure I listen to all sides on this matter. I have already had a meeting with Hacked Off and I am going to meet all representatives; I wanted to hear from all victims of press abuse. I will take my time and make sure I make the decision in the right way.

May I join hon. Members in congratulating my right hon. Friend on becoming Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport—the best job in the Government? Does she share my concern about the continuing loss of both jobs and titles in the national and local press? Does she agree that there may be a case for saying, if there is a recognised regulator, that its members will be given the protection afforded under the Leveson recommendations, but that to impose the cost penalties would simply result in the loss of yet more newspapers?

I am having to fill my right hon. Friend’s really enormous shoes as best I can, because he did an absolutely fantastic job in this role. He sums up the dilemma that we face. We want to have a free press, and we want to make sure that we have a strong and vibrant local press. I know from my own local titles just how important they are to people. They read the Leek Post and Times, the Biddulph Chronicle and The Sentinel, and they want to have such a strong local press.

12. . There has been some suggestion in the national press that this has been kicked into the long grass by Ministers. What assurances can the Secretary of State give the victims that it is not being kicked into the long grass, that Leveson part 2 will be implemented, and that we will see an end point to this? (906197)

The hon. Gentleman will know that some cases are pending, and until they have been completed there can be no progress on Leveson 2. I assure him that this is not being kicked into the long grass. We are looking very carefully at all the arguments from all sides to make sure we have a free press that protects the citizen.

I warmly welcome the whole of the new ministerial team. I am particularly delighted at the survival of the Sports Minister, whom I daily want to hug—[Interruption.]—still want to hug. However, as one of those whose phone was hacked back in 2003, I would just say to the Secretary of State that the victims of phone hacking—many of them were not politicians, but were other victims of crime, including members of the armed forces—are desperate for the Government to stand by the promises they made to them. First, they promised there would be Leveson 2. Can she say today that there will be? There is no reason why she should not do so, because every previous Secretary of State has done so. Secondly, why on earth have they not implemented section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013? It was a cross-party agreement. We would love her to death—I would hug her, too—if only she implemented it.

Oh my goodness—the promise of a hug from the hon. Gentleman is difficult to resist. He will know from my previous time in government that I always listen to victims of crime, make sure that their voices are heard and take note of everything they say, and I would very much welcome the chance to sit down with him and discuss his point of view. I want to make sure that we do this based on the evidence, and that we do it properly.